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"Lifers" - usually on a "birding trip" or by chance when you least expect it?

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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 00:49   #1
pattianne
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"Lifers" - usually on a "birding trip" or by chance when you least expect it?

We were crossing the Bonne Carre Spillway today enroute to New Orleans when we spotted two adult bald eagles. They were perched in the top branches of barren trees growing in the shallow water area. Their white heads glistened in the sunshine; we do have a beautiful national bird. We also saw about thirty brown Pelicans as we passed over the spillway waters. The eagles were "lifers" for me and I wonder, have the majority of your lifers been recorded while on a "birding expedition" or when you least expected it. I guess mine would have to be the latter. Just this winter, I've seen two lifers: scissor tail flycatcher and now the eagles and wasn't prepared with my camera or my binoculars either time. And sometimes, if you do have a camera at hand, circumstances prevent you from getting a photo. When have you seen your lifers??
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 01:13   #2
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As my list gets longer and longer lifers occur in two main ways:
1. Targetted trips looking for particularly species (particularly on longer trips).
2. When a vagrant turns up and hangs around long enough for me to get to see it.
Sometimes both happen on the same trip (Isabelline Wheatear turned up just as we happened to be staying at Kingfisher Park about 30km away).
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 01:18   #3
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As soon as you have seen a large percentage of the birds in your area you will end up going to see specific birds or better still go abroad , then its like starting from scratch!!
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 01:24   #4
Dave B Smith
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Pattianne,
I'm still adding the occassional lifer birding in my local patches but fewer and fewer. I tend to get most on birding trips with specific target birds in mind. However, like you, I have come across a number of lifers while driving in other areas further from home (I guess I'm always birding).

As for your Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, I saw 4 of them today. And I did have a camera and scope. I got some decent shots (I hope) but the one I didn't get is when one flew and perched just 10 feet from me! Too close for my lens! Beautiful view though.
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 02:07   #5
samuel walker
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lifers

Quote:
Originally Posted by pattianne
We were crossing the Bonne Carre Spillway today enroute to New Orleans when we spotted two adult bald eagles. They were perched in the top branches of barren trees growing in the shallow water area. Their white heads glistened in the sunshine; we do have a beautiful national bird. We also saw about thirty brown Pelicans as we passed over the spillway waters. The eagles were "lifers" for me and I wonder, have the majority of your lifers been recorded while on a "birding expedition" or when you least expected it. I guess mine would have to be the latter. Just this winter, I've seen two lifers: scissor tail flycatcher and now the eagles and wasn't prepared with my camera or my binoculars either time. And sometimes, if you do have a camera at hand, circumstances prevent you from getting a photo. When have you seen your lifers??
Hi Pattianne:
I've been birding now for about 4 years. In the beginning I'd pick up a lifer on every outing to a local hot spot. The big trips like to Cape May NJ were overwhelming sighting 4 life birds in a half hour. A little too easy. I think some of the best were ones I fell into. We'd go off on a twitch for a tri-colored heron and see a snowy egret and miss the heron.I have friends who cry about not seeing a sora " I live in Ohio and I should have seen that bird by now". When that day comes and the bird walks out of the marsh it will be special and never forgotten. That's why I bird every day possible.
be ready
Sam
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 04:15   #6
pattianne
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Lifers

Dave, I hope to see some of those photos of the scissor-tail in the gallery, and poor you, he was too close for a good pic. If only I could be so lucky! And for some perfect advice for all us "new-to-birding" folks "be ready" - you're right Sam, sometimes it seems we find what we want to see when we're not really looking for it. But, oh, it is fun to wonder what tomorrow will bring my way.
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 08:35   #7
SimonC
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The majority of my "Lifers" have come from birding trips (though rarely are the trips specifically to see a certain bird) but there have a been a few exceptions to this. Perhaps the most unexpected bird (in more ways than one!) was my first Short Eared Owl. I was taking my fathers dog for a walk on a salt marsh on the Lincolnshire/Norfolk coast when I very nearly trod on the bird! It flew up just in front of me - giving me a fright! (heart-in-mouth time!) The dog was just as alarmed as me I think!

I wouldn't mind being nearly given a heart attack by birds if they were all like that one sadly though, they're normally Woodpigeons "exploding" from cover 6 inches from my face! I hate them for that!!!!!
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 13:40   #8
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At this point (several years into serious birding) I probably see as many new birds by chance as I do actually looking for them. Binoculars: don't leave home without them.

But I suspect eventually I'll hit a wall where, locally at least, there won't be much new to see and I'll have to search to find the birds that are yet to be found.
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 16:02   #9
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Last year I saw 3 lifers while walking to work, a Wood Thrush, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Pileated Woodpecker. And one while going home, Yellow-throated Warbler. And I saw 2 lifers while at home looking out the bedroom window, in February a Fox Sparrow and in April a Chipping Sparrow.
I almost never can go anywhere new to do any birding, I just have to wait for some lifer to come to me. I doubt there is anyone in the Forum who has a stronger desire to go to some good birding spot.

Last edited by marcus : Monday 19th January 2004 at 16:13.
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 17:46   #10
pattianne
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Lifers...to prove a point I made only yesterday

I left early this morning and saw some beauties..

red-winged blackbird
great egret
tufted titmouse
turkey vulture
cardinal
red-tailed hawk
blue-jay
mourning dove
brown pelican
red-bellied woodpecker
snowy egret
mockingbird
great blue heron
boat-tailed grackle
starling
Eastern bluebird
anhinga

THEN, on the way home I made a pass through Burger King for a Coke and I noticed a gray bird with a black mask...yep, a lifer for me - the loggerhead shrike...in a small ornamental pear tree at Burger King. Sam, I was prepared this time. I had both my binos and my camera. When you least expect it.., huh?

Last edited by pattianne : Monday 19th January 2004 at 17:48.
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 18:09   #11
Beverlybaynes
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Just like that you get a loggerhead shrike? Holy catz!!

Like everyone else, as my life list gets longer, the unexpected lifers in my area become less frequent -- although I'm still looking for my lifer ovenbird, for heavens sake!

Sam, my Sora came 11 years into birding and only 50 miles from home this fall, at Loblolly Marsh. What a delight to finally get one! Now for those rails and bitterns . . . .

Nothing will ever top a birding trip I took 7-8 years ago, the first time I had gone to Crane Creek SP in Ohio with a group filled with 'birding gods' -- members of the local Audubon chapter who really truly DO know their stuff! It was mid-May, and I ended up caravanning with two older gentlemen who between them probably have 80 years birding experience. I got 29 lifers that day, and decent looks at all of them. Amazing experience -- and one I'll probably never be able to duplicate, short of winning the lottery and heading to Kenya or Australia . . .

Oh, and there's those Snow Bunting and Long-Eared Owls I need in the next county . . . it's a holiday but it's just too darned cold (said the weather-wimp)! It's something like 16F and windy today!
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 18:58   #12
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Oh, I know what you mean Beverly. It's freezing out! I nearly froze this morning when I went to see some Common Goldeneyes.
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 19:14   #13
pattianne
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Beverly, that must have been mind-boggling to see so many "new birds" in one day. I'd kill myself thumbing through my book to ID them. Guess the pros helped you out in that department. Do you enjoy birding in a group? I usually go by myself, although two of my sisters went with me this summer to Lake Martin and Avery Island on a two-day trip. They really just went for the ride and scenery, but we all enjoyed the birds, too.
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Old Monday 19th January 2004, 19:42   #14
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Pattianne, I enjoy both kinds of birding, alone and in a group.

There's advantages to both. When I'm by myself, I can just wander anywhere I want to, stay as long as I like, and so forth. In a group, I don't always have that freedom, but that's offset by the distinct advantage of having more eyes and ears to winkle out something that doesn't want to show!

I go with our local Audubon group a few times each spring and fall and enjoy them thoroughly -- it's a really nice bunch of people (tends to be the same ones, mostly) and there's a lot of fun along the way -- traditional stops (ALWAYS the McD's along I-80/90 when birding Cedar Swamp in Steuben County), traditional jokes (on each fall's crane trip, we drive through a wide spot on the road named Parr. Now with the widespread use of two-way radios, the puns flow from vehicle to vehicle, and get worse the further we go ["My, you're being awfully PARR-ticular about this!" etc.])

Some of my favorite birding times have been with a small group of friends -- there's 4 of us and all of us are fairly serious birders. We rent a cabin in the woods at a state park about 40 minutes north of the city twice a year and bird our little hearts out for an entire weekend (and eat and drink and play games and eat and . . .). We've now added a winter 'tradition' of doing a CBC at a NWR in south-central Indiana on New Year's Day. And we have soooooooooo much fun!
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Old Tuesday 20th January 2004, 00:37   #15
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As my job takes me to a new location every couple of years, I always have a new "local patch". Two years is just long enough to throroughly explore it. But then, I do go on birding trips as well.
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Old Tuesday 20th January 2004, 01:26   #16
pattianne
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Hanno,
Guess you never get bored with one place and there is always something to look forward to when you have to move ----hopefully, some new lifers will be waiting for you.
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Old Tuesday 20th January 2004, 14:02   #17
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Pattianne,
Here's your Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Really beautiful birds. I posted a few more in the Gallery.
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Old Wednesday 4th February 2004, 00:23   #18
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I've been birding for about 20 years, and there are always new ways of getting "lifers". For me, getting real lifers nearly always now means going on a twitch looking for a rarity seen by someone else - especially in my own Province (Nova Scotia), as I've seen most of the birds that can easily be seen here. The Provincial list is to me more important than my life list, as the latter depends on how much (or little) time and money, and family and work committments I have to travel to bird.

However, now that I've been into digiscoping for the last year or so, I have started a new life list - Birds I Have Successfully Digitally photographed - definition being a sharp, decent shot, that identifies the bird and looks reasonably technically competent. It's given me a whole new lease of birding life. Also, in the last few years I have been able to travel to more exotic places, and birding there (e.g. Central America) is like being a beginner all over again - great rejuvenation!
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